Once spurned, flies hit the bottle


It appears sexually rejected fruit flies drown their sorrows in alcoholic beverage. Ends up they hit the sauce far more frequently than sexually satisfied males.

As if this was something unusual, a group of researchers decided to investigate the behavior. They discovered there is actually a tiny molecule in the fly’s brain called neuropeptide F that creates this behavior as the levels of the molecule change in the brain. The change causes the drive to drink.

The experiments started with male fruit flies in a container with females who had already mated. Once a female has mated, she loses interest in sex rejecting the advances of males. The males give up, subsequently losing their interest in sex, even around virgins. That’s when researchers noticed their drinking patterns changed.

When placed in a new container with two straws, one containing food and the other giving access to happy hour, the sexually rejected flies dove into the alcohol as if on a binge, drinking far more than their sexually satisfied friends.

This information sheds some light on the brain mechanisms that influence social behavior and possibly underlie addiction. It appears humans have a similar molecule – neuropeptide Y - and it may trigger behaviors like excessive drinking or drug abuse. If the molecule can be adjusted, it’s possible the behavior could be adjusted as well.

“If neuropeptide Y turns out to be the transducer between the state of the psyche and the drive to abuse alcohol and drugs, one could develop therapies to inhibit neuropeptide Y receptors,” said Ulrike Heberlein, PhD, a Professor of Anatomy and Neurology at UCSF.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, UCSF


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